Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimages of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river. It is the world’s largest religious gathering. It is held every third year at one of the four places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nasik and Ujjain. Thus the Kumbh Mela is held at each of these four places every twelfth year. Ardh (“Half”) Kumbh Mela is held at only two places, Hardwar and Allahabad, every sixth year. The rivers at these four places are: the Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the Godawari at Nasik, and the Shipra at Ujjain.
Haridwar (The Gateway to God…) : Hardwar stands as the gateway to the four pilgrimages of Uttaranchal. Geographically and geological, Hardwar, lying at the feet of Shiva’s hills, i.e., Shivaliks, in the Hardwar district of Uttaranchal Pradesh, is a doorway. Suryavanshi prince Bhagirath performed penance here to salvage the souls of his ancestors who had perished due to the curse of sage Kapila. The penance was answered and the river Ganga trickled forth from Lord Shiva’s locks and its bountiful water revived the sixty thousand sons of king Sagara. In the traditional of Bhagirath, devout Hindus stand in the sacred waters here, praying for salvation of their departed elder. It is doorway to the sources of the Ganga and the Yamuna, 3000 to 4500 meters up into the snowy ranges of the central Himalayas. The ‘Aarti’ worship of the Ganga after sunset and the floating ‘dia’ (lamp) is a moving ritual.
The observance of Maha Kumbh Mela has achieved international popularity as “The biggest act of faith.” Millions of pilgrims come to participate in the holy event of Maha Kumbh with a tremendous faith. They have a “persistent trust in something sublime”. The pilgrims come from all walks of life, with a belief that their sins will be washed off in the holy waters of the sacred river Ganges if they take a dip during the Kumbh but the actual and more science based reasons are different. It is actually the position of stars and constellations during the Kumbh that makes it significant to take a dip in the river at that time. Actually Kumbh Mela takes place during an auspicious planetary position that is believed to medicate the Ganges waters with a concentration of certain rays due to their position and turn the river into nectar. Millions of devotees arrive to purify their inner self through holy bathing rituals. (Possibly a lot of skin diseases are cured during that time).
The religious history of Kumbh Yatra (Kumbh Mela) remains associated with numerous legends. There is an interesting legend which relates to the origin of the Kumbh Yatra (Kumbh Mela). Hindus believe that Lord Brahma gave gods a piece of advice to rid them of their weakness, caused during the creation of the earth. Following Lord Brahma’s advice, the gods began to churn the ocean to obtain amrit from its waters. As the task was quite tough, the gods sought the assistance of demons. The gods, in return, made a deal with the demons that the latter could have half of the nectar that was too obtained from the ocean. The demons agreed to it. However, after the gods became successful in procuring the nectar, they tried to run away without sharing half of it with the demons, as was promised in the deal, a fight ensued. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the Devas and Asuras fought in the sky for the pot of amrita. It is believed that during the battle, Lord Vishnu (incarnated as Mohini-Murti) flew away with the Kumbha of elixir spilling drops of amrita at four places: Allahabad (Prayag), Hardwar, Ujjain and Nasik.
The ancient Hindu Vedas mention a “Kalp” to be the period equal to the total number of years in the four yugas – Satyug, Treta, Dwapar and Kalyug. This adds up to several millions of years. It is said that by piously observing a “Kalpavas”, a devotee overcomes the sins in his/her previous birth and escapes the cycle of Janma(birth) and Karma (actions). During each day of the Magh Mela, a Kalpvasi has to take a dip at the Ganges on sunrise praying to the rising sun. Majority of the Kalpvasis partake only a meal a day. After observing 12 Kalpavas, a Kalpavasi has to donate his/her bed and all his belongings (a ritual known as “Shayya Daan”).
Article is secondary data & collection of:mahakumbhyatra.com